December 14, 2021 (New York, NY) — The work required to combat bias, bigotry, and hate is already hard enough–but worse is when law enforcement authorities and elected officials don’t see the problem for what it is.
Last year, it took months for the Sikh Coalition to successfully demonstrate to a Colorado district attorney’s office that Lakhwant Singh, who was told to ‘go back to your country’ and hit with a car, had survived a hate crime. In Indianapolis this summer, the FBI and local police explicitly ruled out bias as a possible factor and instead labeled a mass shooter who murdered four Sikhs and injured others as merely mentally ill–providing no justification for their decision, and failing to recognize the complex, multi-faceted motivations involved in many hate crimes. Meanwhile, law enforcement agencies across the United States continue to struggle with underreporting or misreporting hate crimes: the Sikh Coalition has recently held several meetings regarding the nation’s largest police department, the NYPD, to explore how they have not reported a single anti-Sikh hate crime since reporting came to fruition in 2015.
Despite all of these challenges, we fight every day to explain and prove, over and over again, what our community’s lived experiences and all the available data already show: Sikhs are hundreds of times more likely to experience bias, discrimination, and hate than most Americans.
Beyond the fact that it can be an uphill battle, this work also takes serious financial resources. Our team of fewer than 20 full-time staff spends thousands of hours every year on letters, calls, and other messages to elected officials; meetings with law enforcement to make sure clients are well-represented; conversations and interviews with journalists to ensure they know who Sikhs are and what we believe; and educational trainings for teachers, business-owners, and anyone else who can help raise Sikh awareness in their communities.
We want to get to a world where the Sikh experience of resilience in the face of hate is accepted rather than argued over, but it’s going to take more to speed up that progress. Time and again, marginalized communities in the United States are told that our experiences with bigotry don’t meet the threshold of a hate crime, can’t be ‘proven’ as racism by the perpetrator, or are somehow our fault.
Will you join the Sikh Coalition in fighting for our experiences to be recognized and taken seriously? Every dollar you donate in support of our end-of-year fundraising can go towards engaging our elected officials, public awareness and education work, or free legal support for those in need.
With your support, we are going to be heard.
As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly.